We believe strongly in the right to protest, as well as the right to vote. We believe in the value and power of protesting, as well as the value and power of voting. But the time and place to protest is not in the voting booth on election day. Protest is a cry from the outside, a disruption of business as usual in an effort to be heard. A vote is a strategic effort to win a contest. If you don’t cast a vote for the best possible candidate on the ballot who has a chance of winning, then you are doing nothing but helping a worse – even, these days, dangerous – candidate win.
No American citizen should need to be told this today. Because many good people cast a protest vote against Hillary Clinton in 2016, Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, with many disastrous, enduring consequences that continue to unfold on a daily – indeed, hourly – basis. We know that many other factors contributed to Trump’s victory, and that Clinton and the Democratic Party made countless mistakes in 2016. However, if everyone who knew that Trump would be a worse president than Clinton had voted strategically against Trump, rather than cast a non-strategic protest vote against Clinton, then we (and our Supreme Court) would all be much further from the edge of ruin than we are today.
For now, the best we can do is weaken Trump and the Republican Party that continues to enable him and force greater accountability from them. On November 6, that means we need to defeat every Republican on the ballot that we have any hope of defeating.
In Missouri, we have an opportunity to defeat the Trump-endorsed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Josh Hawley, currently the state’s attorney general. This very closely watched race has seen the incumbent McCaskill and Hawley trade places at the top of polls, with the margin always tiny. We believe that if everyone in Missouri who knows that a weaker, restrained President Trump is a stronger United States votes strategically on November 6, then they will vote against the Republican candidate Trump has endorsed and vote for the Democratic incumbent McCaskill. It’s the only way to prevent Trump from gaining another Republican ally in Congress to protect and empower him. This is especially crucial in the Senate, the most powerful house of Congress that confirms – or rejects – so many presidential appointments, none more important than to the U.S. Supreme Court. That body can curb Trump, whose fear-mongering rhetoric has become increasingly outrageous and dangerous.
“I know progressives who believe a vote against McCaskill is their only avenue of protest against a Democratic Party that has not been too welcoming,” the Rev. Darryl Gray, a protest leader, told us. “But there are groups of people and communities that need your vote and cannot afford your protest. The results of this election could literally mean life or death for many Americans and others around the world already living in fear, famine, and frustration.” We agree with Rev. Gray and would only go further to say that the results of this election could literally mean life or death for democracy in America.
Progressive frustration with McCaskill is understandable, and we share it keenly. We urged McCaskill to run a different kind of campaign geared at energizing her base, especially African Americans, knowing that almost every single black person who casts a vote will vote for the Democrat at the top of the ticket, and on November 6 that will be McCaskill. But McCaskill, knowing that Trump beat Clinton by a half-million votes in Missouri, ran the most centrist campaign of a centrist political career. Where we want her to defy and repudiate Trump, she publicizes her efforts to find common ground with him and his party. Where we want her to express outrage at his inhumane immigration policies and increasingly obvious white nationalism, she raises only mild objections, if any.
That is because she knows that Missouri is a whopping 81 percent non-Hispanic white and one of only 10 states that have never elected a non-white person to statewide office. She has to win this election in the state of Missouri, not only the city of St. Louis. She can’t be the Democrat we want her to be if she is going to be a Democrat who can beat a Republican challenger, especially in this midterm election. As Charles Jaco wrote in this paper, “while McCaskill vacuums the couch cushions for spare dimes in rural Missouri, the part of the state where she has her richest support is taken for granted.” While we understand it is difficult to show enthusiasm for someone who takes you for granted, we think it should be easy for a progressive voter to show genuine zeal for limiting and diminishing the power of Trump – and, without question, a vote for McCaskill does exactly that, considering the alternative.
To be clear: McCaskill cannot realistically be the Democrat we want her to be and still beat Hawley. However, she is a very different senator than Hawley would be, and Democrats up and down the ticket have told us so.
"Claire McCaskill has stood with me in defense of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the right to vote,” said U.S. Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (D-Missouri). Hawley would help Trump undermine all of those things.
“Claire’s opponent would immediately support efforts of his party and his president to roll back civil rights and consumer protections that we depend on to have a fair chance at success in this country,” said Michael Butler, Democratic nominee for St. Louis recorder of deeds on the November 6 ballot with McCaskill.
“I support Senator Claire McCaskill because she has a proven track record of fighting for working families by protecting our healthcare, standing up against big drug companies, and she supports the proposed minimum wage increase,” said St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green, a Democrat. Green referred to Proposition B on the November 6 ballot, which would raise the state’s minimum wage to $12 by 2023. McCaskill endorsed the measure; Hawley opposes it.
Karla May, a state representative who is the Democratic nominee for the 4th Missouri Senate District on the November 6 ballot, mailed 5,000 pieces informing voters in her district about McCaskill’s support for Proposition B, the minimum wage increase, as well as McCaskill’s fight against so-called “Right to Work” legislation, which May called “right to work for less.”
Hawley “is fighting against your right to vote, fighting against the Affordable Care Act, fighting to lower wages in our state, fighting for right to work for less,” May’s mailer pointed out. Indeed, McCaskill has stood up to Hawley’s lawsuit that is threatening to take away health care for 2.5 million Missourians with pre-existing conditions and fought to lower health care costs for all Missourians. Hawley, a shameless liar, continues to claim to support coverage for people with pre-existing conditions while pursuing a lawsuit that would remove that and all consumer protections of the ACA with no provisions to replace these protections.
May also reminded voters of something that many may have forgotten: “Our Senator Claire McCaskill stood with and supported President Barack Obama.” Indeed, McCaskill was a very early – and crucial – supporter of Obama in his uphill primary fight against Hillary Clinton in 2008.
We believe St. Louis County Councilwoman Hazel Erby (D-1st District) ultimately sounds the rallying cry that no one who hopes to maintain democracy and decency in this country should fail to heed: “Claire’s opponent has ads stating that he will be a rubber stamp for the current president.” It is impossible to fathom how any voter of conscience could do anything but cast the most strategic vote to defeat a “rubber stamp” candidate for Donald Trump on November 6. In Missouri, only one vote for the U.S. Senate seat does that – and our vote is powerful. If black voters could provide the margin of victory for a Democratic Senate candidate in Alabama, then we – more than any other demographic group – have the power to defy the odds and carry McCaskill to victory in Missouri. As strongly as we have ever urged our readers to cast any votes – to make their voices heard, to protect and advance the policies that are critical to our community and its well-being – we strongly endorse Claire McCaskill for U.S. Senate.